Useful links: BioWare, targeted ads, headers on Twitter, Coursera

BioWare Co-Founders step down. Gaming has been good to these two, who are retiring from the company they founded to do other things.

Rob Weychert used his turn on The Pastry Box Project this month to talk about Hulu advertising and how it is supposed to be tailored to individual interests but fails at the task. Makes me think about how Klout is often spectacularly wrong about your influence or how Facebook shows you ads for things you absolutely hate.

Guess you heard the news that Twitter is now using a header image something like Facebook’s big one. I already changed mine to something similar to what I use on this blog. You’ll find the option in Settings > Design and then scroll down the page to find Header.

Coursera is growing. If you are an educator, you need to be keeping an eye on it and what it means.

3 Tips for Educators Who Don’t Know Jack about Twitter

Do you keep getting the advice that you should be using Twitter? And do you keep ignoring it?

Twitter can be daunting for someone who doesn’t feel really on top of the whole social media thing. It’s overwhelming if you look at all of one piece. But you can separate out small pieces of Twitter that you may find useful and helpful.

I want to help you find the way to separate out the pieces, put them in usable containers, and let the rest flow on by without worrying about it. What follows are several ways you can narrow down the Twitter stream and make it manageable.

Who You Follow and the @ Symbol

Even the most inexperienced Twitter user knows that you follow people and people follow you. You want to be selective about who you follow. Follow people whose tweets you truly want to read. You do not have to follow everyone who follows you.

When you sign in and open Twitter in your browser (or in some app like TweetDeck), you see messages sent by the people you follow. Depending on how many people you follow, you may see only a few tweets, or they may roll by fairly quickly.

You also see tweets that were retweeted by people you follow. I’ve highlighted examples in the image.

twitter stream with retweets circled

Retweets do spread your message around to more people, so they are considered a good thing to be appreciated.

Looking at the example tweets in the image above, you notice that a tweet can include the name of another Twitter user – for example @ESPN – or a link to an article or web site. Tweets can also include hashtags with keywords – for example #GameDay.

Using the @ symbol indicates a Twitter user. You can address your message to a specific person this way. You can click the person’s name and go to their profile to learn more about them and follow them if you want. Or you can just mention someone in passing using the @twittername knowing that they will see your tweet.

Using Hashtags and Searching

Hashtags followed by keywords are useful for following a topic rather than a person. Often events or causes have special hashtags. I recently attended WordCamp in Albuquerque. The hashtag for the event was #wcabq. Because everyone at the event knew about the hashtag, they used it when they tweeted about the event. That made it very easy to search on #wcabq and see all the tweets about the event in one place.

twitter search results

Hashtags can help your tweet get seen and retweeted. Recently I wrote a post on this blog about accessibility. I tweeted it, but I didn’t include a hashtag. Later I realized I’d overlooked the hashtag for accessibility (#a11y – which is an a, 11 missing letters, and a y). I tweeted the same link again with a hashtag. I got more traffic to my post and I got retweets the second time. There are people and businesses who maintain a constant search for whatever hashtag they are interested in so they see and perhaps respond to every tweet on a particular topic. One of the most common uses of Twitter is to search for some bit of breaking news using a hashtag.

In a classroom, a hashtag can be used to follow tweets on a particular topic of discussion during the class period.

Using Lists

It’s easy to create a list. Sign in to Twitter in your browser. You should see something like this in your sidebar.

twitter lists

Using the Lists link you can do two things. You can create a list. You can also see other people’s lists that you are on. You can click on one of your lists (after you’ve made some) and see only tweets from the people on that list.

twitter lists

You can add someone to a list whether you follow them or not. When you are looking at a person’s profile, you see a pull down menu next to the Follow/Following button. Use it to select either add to or remove from list and pick the list you want that person on. You can put a person on more than one list.

add to or remove from list

Some people use lists to separate out the people they are really interested in and seldom look at tweets from everyone they follow, they just look at their special list.

I use lists to aggregate tweets I don’t want to miss into a daily paper using For example, I have pick up all the tweets from my list of the women in web education and create a daily paper for that list. Once a day I get an email that the paper is ready, and I can get 24 hours worth of tweets from the educators on that list in just a few minutes. This is a big time saver for me; I never miss a tweet from a people I really am interested in. Other people who are interested in web education can follow my list. Anyone can subscribe to and read the daily paper.

These three tips – finding the right people to follow, using hashtags to find what you want, and using lists to narrow down what you read – can take Twitter from an overwhelming rush of chatter to something you are in control of and can use to achieve your particular goals.


Useful Links: Mobile & Mobile, Twitter rights

Mobile Landing Page Optimization – 10 Best Practices for Success is from Search Engine Land and all 10 tips are excellent.

10 Trends for Mobile User Experience from White Space is also interesting with its list of what is the current practice in mobile.

Did you think you owned the right to your own words in your own tweets? Think again.

Useful links: Speaker Tips, Facebook email, your Twitter self

So you’ve been invited to speak is from Lea Verou who has some excellent tips for people who are doing presentations that involve coding. Wish her advice about IDEs was tattooed on the brain of every speaker I’ve every watched.

Facebook just changed your email without your permission. Here’s how to get it back.

Lately, I’m sort of obsessed with the idea of analyzing people based on what they post on Twitter. It seems like there’s a website that’s supposed to do that . . . am I making this up or is there such a website?

Learning from successful marketing gurus

Gaming, friending, marketing, social media, the Internet – it’s all part of a big mashup these days. Take Lady Gaga, for instance. Recently, Mashable ran Lady Gaga First to Hit 20 Million Twitter Followers. Justin Bieber–what a slacker–only has 18 million followers on Twitter. (I just looked at my own Twitter account, where I’m edging up on 1300 followers – kaPOW, Gaga.)

Part One of the Big Mashup: Social Media and Brand Tie-ins

The article at Mashable wasn’t just about Twitter. It went on to detail everything that Lady Gaga did in marketing “Born this Way.” The list includes:

  • A Farmville-like game from Zynga called Gaga-Ville
  • A two week long scavenger hunt with Starbucks
  • Lady Gaga appeared in a Google Chrome commercial, chatting with fans
  • A one-day deal with Amazon to download the whole album for $0.99.
  • A live feed from Best Buy of Lady Gaga staying up all night in a NYC store signing autographs
  • An interview with Google executive Marissa Mayer
  • A Facebook contest involving about how money should be divided up among 5 charities
  • Lady Gaga teamed up with Gilt Groupe to sell clothing – some for charity
  • An HBO concert special
  • Rdio had a contest related to the album release with the winner getting free music for life
  • Lady Gaga posts frequently on Facebook
  • Exclusive premiers on Vevo
  • iTunes offered bonus songs with preorders of the album
  • Previews and teasers in YouTube videos
  • TwitPic photos and Twitter activity
  • QR Codes for “Born this Way” ringtones scattered about the Internet
  • Apps
  • Permission for Weird Al Yankovic to include a parody of “Born This Way” called “Perform This Way” on his own album
  • and even more minor kinds of things

Are you stunned by that list? I am. I’m also thinking it’s a free tutorial from the geniuses who market Lady Gaga in how to do marketing.

Okay, so maybe you aren’t going to get Starbucks to team up with your little blog, or Marissa Mayer to interview you for an hour and then broadcast the interview, but you can do some of what you see in that list. You can use it to start your own thinking.

Rachel Andrew, writing at The Pastry Box Project, speaks directly to web designers when she says,

If you are good at what you do you might like to write articles and books, speak at conferences, be included in discussions on subjects. To get started all you need to do is start publishing your ideas somewhere, or offer to speak at small events, and other offers will start to come in.

In this industry we don’t have to wait until the “powers that be” recognize our talent, we can put ourselves out there, and we have the skills and tools to do it.

Part 2 of the Big Mashup: Add Games to the Mix

Gaming Angels recently wrote about The Hunger Games Innovative Social Media Campaign. Maybe the movie The Hunger Games isn’t as huge a phenomena as Lady Gaga, but I’ll bet you are aware of the hype around it.

As GamingAngel points out,

It all starts on the Hunger Games Facebook page. When you login with your Facebook account, you will immediately, get placed into a District. How’s that for fans?

In addition to Facebook, there are Hunger Games related sites at The Capitol and Capitol Couture. Both have all sorts of activities, games, ways to particpate and links to purchase movie tickets. Add to that the normal releases of Official Trailers, ads, and entertainment blog posts.

That’s a lot of big movie hype. But you aren’t a movie. What can you do to generate some hype?

You could read a helpful book where you’d find some good ideas.

In the book Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter, there is a chapter called “Emotional Engagement.” He cites several elements that can elicit emotion engagement from your users. These techniques can build excitement and stimulate lots of tweets and conversation.

  1. Surprise
  2. Anticipation, the velvet rope, and status (yeah, have you been invited to Pinterest yet?)
  3. Priming

I recommend this book if you are struggling with hanging on to your users and making them return visitors. You can read a more complete review of the book: Web Teacher Review of Designing for Emotion.

Back to Gamers, Please

With 68.7 million gamers running around the marketplace, according to Why 5 Big Brand Marketing Campaigns are Betting Big on Social Gaming, it’s inevitable that businesses are working out ideas for how to market products with games. I don’t mean market the game – I mean market something else with a game.

Examples of big brands and games mentioned in that article include the WeCity game from Century 21 that lets players build cities and the New York City Public Library’s game, Find the Future.

Games and gamers can be used to market more than products. They can also be used to market ideas and behavior. I’ll close with a mention of this 20 minute TED Talk by Jane McGonigal, in which she explains how we could harness gamer power to solve real-world problems. What could you do with a game? Or, could you give a TED Talk to promote some idea? There are many local TEDx events where someone with something to say can deliver a talk.

Big phenomenal ideas were discussed here – can you bring them to bear at the scale of your marketing project?

Note: This article was cross-posted at BlogHer in a slightly different form.

Pew Study on Privacy Management on Social Media Sites

Sometimes it feels like most of the privacy issues on the Internet are women’s issues. The stalkers, the sexual wannabes, the trolls — they seem to prey mainly on women. But men have privacy issues, too. The most recent Pew Internet Study takes a look at privacy management practices among both sexes.

According to Pew, 63% of adults have some sort of online profile. That’s up about 20% from 2006. Of those online profiles, only about 20% are completely public. Most people (58%) have their profiles set to friends only. There’s also a percentage (19%) who use a setting that allows friends and friends of friends to see profiles. Out of that 19% who allow friends and friends of friends to see what they post, about 26% say they set privacy for individual posts that will bar some from seeing posts. Turn that around, it means 74% of that minority of users are allowing friends to spread around anything they want to share.

Women, however, are more careful. Pew identifies the habits of women as more “conservative in basic settings.” The following chart by Pew is labeled as privacy gender gap.

Image: Pew Research Center Internet and American Life Project

As you can see, the majority of women (67%) restrict access to information to friends only.

Women are also the most likely to delete friends, remove comments, and–on sites where photos can be tagged–women are most likely to remove their name from tagged photos. The number of people who report culling friends, deleting comments, and removing a name from tagged photos is up in the last few years, but it still not a majority behavior in most age groups. However, in the 18-29 demographic, this kind of profile control is prevalent.

For the 18-29 demographic, the Pew study says,

Deleting social media comments is part of the reputation management work of being a young adult.

Removing comments and tags on photos is a way of managing what other people are posting. As for management of one’s own content, only 11% of the people in the study say they have posted something they regret. The percent of people posting things they regret are most often men or young adults, again supporting the idea that women are more careful and thoughtful about what they are putting on social media sites.

If these results seem Facebook-centric in terminology, that’s because Facebook remains huge. Fully 93% of people who do have an online profile are on Facebook. MySpace continues to lose, with only 23% of the surveyed users being there. Twitter users are up, but still only account for 11% of online profiles. Google+ wasn’t mentioned in the study that I could find.

Also interesting, many users (55%) maintain a profile on only one site.

Personal Reflections

I don’t fit anybody’s idea of demographics. My age, my gender, and my occupation are all way off the charts in terms of normal demographics. Nevertheless, I think a few personal reflections are in order, because I think I at least represent how women act online.

First, I have never deleted a friend on any social media site I belong to. That’s because I’m very picky about who I friend. If I don’t know you personally or have a good reason to want to friend you for professional purposes, you don’t make the cut. Does this describe you, too?

Secondly, I have multiple online profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Google +, BlogHer, and more at smaller and more specialized sites. Are you a single profile person, or a multiple profile person?

Finally, I think we all (but especially women) need to be vigilant about online profiles and behavior because the landscape changes constantly. New information about privacy violations appear in the news regularly. It falls to us, the users, to take frequent tours through the account settings of the sites we use to ensure good privacy control. We cannot depend on online sites to be careful for us.


Pew linked to some very interesting resources that are worth a look.

  1. The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook
  2. How Different are Young Adults from Older Adults When it Comes to Information Privacy Attitudes and Policies?

Another resource, not mentioned by the Pew study, is danah boyd on Teen Privacy Strategies in Networked Publics.

Note: This article is cross-posted at BlogHer.